My Psych Nursing Story

My Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing StoryEntering nursing school, I had my sights set on working in the operating room. I was extremely nervous for my psychiatric-mental health nursing rotation. When it came time for me to go to the behavioral health unit in a small community hospital, I really didn't know what to expect. As the semester went on, my nervousness turned into compassion.

"I know what it is like to be a family member of someone with mental illness, firsthand."

I never expected that I would decide on psychiatric-mental health nursing as my career. After I graduated, I spent eight months looking for a position in another small community hospital in my area. I had no experience but my unit manager offered me the position. It has been just four months but I have learned so much and I really enjoy going to work.

As an aside, looking back, my decision to commit to becoming a nurse was inspired by my grandfather. I had just let him know I was looking into nursing schools, when he passed away from a heart attack and was actually brought to a hospital 60 miles from his home. The hospital he passed away in was the hospital I learned to be a nurse in, gaining admittance into their nursing program. My grandfather spent his career working as a social worker at a large state hospital, Torrance State Hospital, retiring in the late 1980s. He even lived across from the actual hospital, in two separate houses!

Our family was not immune to mental illness. His son, my uncle, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suicided while my mother was pregnant with me. My mother developed bipolar disorder, and attempted suicide several times after dealing with a drug addiction. I know what it is like to be a family member of someone with mental illness, firsthand. I am able to remain nonjudgmental and be as supportive as I can to my patients and their family.

- J.M.

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